Bulgari’s latest fragrance is inspired by the mandarin garnet and exotic India.
AWAY from the incessant noise from the vehicle horns on the streets – nowhere but in India do you see cars being adorned with the message “Honk at me, please” – the Rambagh Palace Hotel in Jaipur is a welcomed sanctuary.
In early February, the historic hotel, the former residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur, played host to an event by Bulgari. The Italian luxury brand was launching the latest in its Omnia range of fragrances, aptly named Indian Garnet.
Media members from all over the world were flown to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Also known as the Pink City of India, Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, after whom the city has been named.
The fragrance introduction was held on the sprawling garden grounds of the Rambagh Palace. As the morning sun was out in full force, guests were sheltered by colourful umbrellas in varied shapes and hues.
From the immaculately-tended gardens to lofty domes, marbled corridors and larger-than-life portraits of past Maharajas, the beautiful surroundings was nothing short of majestic. Adding to the excitement was the rumour that Richard Gere and Dame Judi Dench – in India to film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2 – were guests of the hotel. But any thought of potentially bumping into them dissipated as we encountered – and got a whiff of – Omnia Indian Garnet.
Passage through India
“For this new story, we looked for an immediate evocation of the Indian sub-continent,” explained Spanish master perfumer Alberto Morillas. “I wanted this perfume to be a recreation, and not a mere catalogue of exotic travel memories.”
It took Morillas, 64, one and a half years to produce Indian Garnet, and he is obviously proud of his creation.
As with other scents in the Omnia family, the Indian Garnet’s inception began with a precious stone. In this case, Morillas, a frequent collaborator with Bulgari, was shown “an amazing” and apparently, very big mandarin garnet.
The orange-coloured stone brought India to his mind, all its glorious colours and spellbinding beauty. “We started with this beautiful colour, and from it, this energy, life and uniqueness,” said Morillas in an interview with the Malaysian press.
“I immediately found myself bathed in the light of India where, in the evening, everything is inflamed in this very distinctive shade of orange as the sun sets.”
After all, the country, and in particular Jaipur, is also where Bulgari sources for the gems used in its jewellery.
Morillas was inspired by strong elements such as tuberose and saffron, both emblematic of India. He also used Sicilian mandarin to give the scent a Roman signature that underscores the links with Bulgari’s roots.
“I then added osmanthus to these components to increase the overall softness and voluptuousness,” he said.
“Finally, I tied it all together with a very warm evocation of Indian wood, which gives the scent its very contemporary notes.
“Each of the accord reminded me of the colour of a sari. So, in a way, I have created my own collection of saris!” he added with a smile.
Morillas is of the firm belief that a perfumer’s role is to appeal to as many women as possible, and offer them a chance to identify themselves with an iconic aspect of femininity.
“The Omnia Indian Garnet woman resembles a queen. She embodies a form of femininity, serenity, nobility and elegance which one encounters everywhere in India, from the most humble woman to the Maharani,” he enthused.
What’s unique about his working method is that he writes almost all of his formulas by hand.
“Writing a formula on a computer is a precise but an unemotional experience for me. Handwriting my formulas ensures that the true expression of my idea is kept on a single page.
“My handwriting is my emotion. When I write the formula, I can smell the perfume,” mused Morillas, who was honoured with the coveted “Prix François Coty” in 2003, in recognition of his contributions to the fragrance industry.
Orange is the new chic
Not surprisingly, the bottle is as unconventional as the scent itself. The choice of a Mobius ring, a loop twisted around itself, has been translated into a contemporary version for the sculptural bottle.
The colour orange was chosen so that it infuses the bottle with some of its singular energy; it is welded to sparkling metallic circles which wrap around it.
The scent comes on the back of steady sales for Bulgari’s fragrance unit, which makes up the next best revenue-generating category after its number one division – jewellery.
According to The Business Times, fragrances contribute 23% to 25% of the brand’s total annual revenue, and sales from the unit are expected to reach €150mil (RM680mil) this year.
With Omnia being the top-selling line among Bulgari’s fragrances, anticipation is running high for Indian Garnet. (Other scents in the Omnia range – also created by Morillas – are Omnia Coral, Omnia Améthyste and the most popular, Omnia Crystalline.)
Besides the media presentation at Rambagh Palace, there were extravagant dinner parties held at Jaipur’s Jaigarh Fort and City Palace. The latter was attended by royalty and VIP guests, complete with decorated elephants, twirling dancers and a marching band.
Overall, it was a feast for the senses, proving that India, much like Omnia Indian Garnet, remains a memorable and mesmerising experience.
The EDT Jewel Charm is priced at RM180 (25ml), RM230 (40ml) and RM300 (65ml). The Omnia Indian Garnet can be experienced at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur (June 2-8) and Sogo, KL (June 3-9).
Edita Vilkeviciute, face of Indian Garnet